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Italian Cream Cake (Plus Pie Variation)

My late mother made the best Italian cream cake, and for many years I have worked hard to re-create her incredibly delectable recipe.

Italian cream cake is one of the most delicious cakes you will ever taste!

Italian cream cake is one of the most delicious cakes you will ever taste!

Italian Cream Cake

My late mother, Virginia Walker, made the best Italian cream cake. For many years, I have worked hard to re-create her incredibly delectable recipe. Although this cake requires a bit of time and care, even the novice baker will be rewarded if he or she simply slows down.

Contrary to what the name suggests, there's really nothing Italian about an Italian cream cake. The first mention of this cake appeared around 1909 in a newspaper in Mobile, Alabama, so most likely the cake wasn't invented in Italy but in the southern region of the United States.

You can go online and find many different recipes for this cake, but my recipe is oh so delicious, you really don't need to go elsewhere!

This recipe is quite versatile. If you are having a large party or gathering, consider making a large cake and surrounding it with a multitude of cupcakes made from the same batter. I've also used this recipe to make sheet cakes—and once I even made an enormous Italian cream wedding cake! It was a huge hit.




For the cake:

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh frozen coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose plain flour

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh frozen coconut, thawed to room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 cup fine chopped walnuts


For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 cake pans with vegetable spray and line each pan with a cutout liner of baking parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add softened butter, shortening, and sugar. Mix together until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs, baking soda/buttermilk mixture, vanilla extract, coconut, baking powder, and flour. Stir with a hand mixer until very well combined. Pour out batter into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool slightly before you remove from the pans and carefully remove the baker's parchment paper.

Frosting the cake:

  1. In a large bowl, add frosting ingredients one at a time and beat with a hand mixer until well combined.
  2. When the cake layers have completely cooled, spread the frosting between and on top of the layers. Be sure that you allow your cake layers to cool thoroughly before applying the frosting, or it will not turn out right.
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Decorating the cake:

Sometimes I toast coconut and pat it onto the outside of the frosting and sometimes I don't. Some people really like the toasted coconut on the cake and some people aren't big fans. Try it both ways and see how you like it. You can also add other decorations to the cake—dress it up however you like.

Baking Tips

  • In order for this cake to turn out right, your oven must cook at the right temperature. Investing in a high-quality oven thermometer is one of the best things a home baker can do to ensure success.
  • I recommend investing in high-quality cake pans, as this can make a big difference in how your cakes turn out.
  • Lining your cake pans with baking parchment paper that has been trimmed to fit the pans will help your cakes come out much more easily. Simply peel the parchment paper from the bottom of your cake layers once you have removed the cakes from the pans.
Italian cream cake

Italian cream cake

Variation: Italian Cream Pie

If you love Italian cream cake, how about trying an Italian cream pie? If you're looking for an extra special pie, this may be just the ticket.


For the filling:

  • 16 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the topping:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup fresh thawed frozen coconut

For the pie crust:

  • 2 graham cracker pie crust shells, store-bought or homemade


  1. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients with an electric hand mixer until they are well mixed.
  2. Divide the filling between your two graham cracker pie crusts and bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
  3. Make the topping: In a bowl, beat cream cheese and coconut until very well mixed. Spread the topping on both pies. Chill pies in the refrigerator before serving.
  4. Optional decoration: Toast coconut to go on top of your pies, if you wish.

Italian Cream Cupcakes

Please Comment!

If you make this cake, please tell us all about it in the comments section below. Or post any comments or questions you may have. Thank you!

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